I could pretend to write a long post about everything in Animal Kingdom. I could talk about how the animal exhibits are beautiful and how the musicals are worth watching. I could talk about the awesome rollercoaster thrill that is Expedition Everest and how amazing all the usual attractions are, but I’d just be beating around the bush.
Obviously, being the new attraction, this area was destined to be packed with people. When we arrived at the park, one of the two rides already had a 60 minute wait!
We decided to do the 20 minute line for the Na’vi River Journey first. This is a beautiful boat ride taking you through the beauty of Na’vi nature. Not only is it beautiful, but I have to say the animatronics in this ride were incredible.
Most of the ride features “bioluminescent” lighting, so it was very hard to take photos that properly captured the beauty of it, but believe me when I say that it was gorgeous. I’m glad we took advantage of the short ride though, later in the day the wait went up to an hour and a half. While the boat ride was beautiful it definitely wouldn’t be worth a wait that long.
By the time we got out of the river ride, we went to make queue for the Rite of Passage attraction, which had managed to go up to two hours. It was insane! The line winded its way throughout all of Pandora and out into Africa!
On the bright side, we got to see all the beautiful sights in Pandora. We stuck in that line until the bitter end. In all honesty, once the line went into the actual cave, the wait didn’t feel all that long at all.
There was so many interesting things to see! Markings on the cave walls made way to bioluminescent Pandora flora.
The beautiful cave-dwelling plants eventually led to a science lab for the conservation and discovery of everything o do with the “banshee”, of which the basis of the ride revolved around. There was even a massive Avatar floating in a water capsule that looks like a movie scene in photo, but is EXTREMELY life-like in reality.
I want to shake the hands of all the Imagineers who took part in creating this queue, it was incredible.
The ride itself required the rider to sit in a motorcycle-like chair to connect with an Avatar that would ride on the back of a Banshee.
I’ve never experienced anything quite like this ride, and I’ve been to a lot of theme parks. It was so immersive? That’s the best way I can explain it without waxing poetry about it. While following the road that was paved by Epcot’s Soarin’, Rite of Passage takes this type of experience to a whole new level.
I felt the movement of the banshee beneath me, movements that were integrated into the seats. The “flying” movement simulation was perfect. You could both feel AND smell the ride! I’m serious. You could smell the waters when the banshee flew near the beach, you could smell the foliage when flying through the jungle, and you could smell the dirt on the paths made by creatures. It was a complete five senses simulation! Its so hard to explain this ride without resorting to weird hand gestures and flabbergasted noises. It was just insanely cool.
After a full day finishing the rest of Animal Kingdom, we went back to Pandora and did the full two-hour queue to get on Rite of Passage again. It was that good. A friend of mine had recommended we take blacklight paint for a bit of fun in Pandora, so the second time around we spent a majority of the time painting our arms. By the time we reached the “cave flora” bit of the queue, our arms lit up with the numerous black lights in the room.
The Pandora area also has a lot of cool stuff in terms of food and snacks. They have a full-fledged restaurant that we weren’t able to try out, but we did try a snack stand called Pongu Pongu.
“Pongu Lumpia” is basically a spring roll with pineapple and cream cheese inside. It was good, if only a bit too unsatisfying size wise. I think deep down I would’ve liked a churro or a soft pretzel instead. Very good for a one-time tasting though!
The drinks are what really stand out! They’re brightly colored with different colored boba balls on top, and if you shell out a few more bucks, the drinks glow.
I ordered a “Night Blossom” and absolutely loved it. The drink is non-alcoholic and tastes a bit like a SweetTart candy, in a weird way. The passion fruit boba balls were delicious!
They have an alcoholic option that I desperately wish I could’ve tried because it looked so good! The woes of traveling with family, I guess.
We usually never stay late at Animal Kingdom. However, there was a new night show that debuted a couple of months ago, and we stayed to watch it. Frankly, a part of me wishes that we’d just stayed in Pandora instead of seeing the show.
“Rivers of Light” is okay, but I think it’s very much a one-time viewing. I wouldn’t go racing to go watch it again any time soon. If anything, I wish that time had been spent experiencing Pandora by night instead. Maybe next time around I’ll get to see the nighttime luminescence throughout the park.
Even for a casual fan, I’d say Pandora is well worth a visit, if only to experience the amazing talent of world building that Disney has managed to reach. If this is what Avatar gets, I can’t wait to see how immersive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be like!
PS: I’m back home now and about two days behind on my travel posts, so hopefully I’ll have those up tomorrow! Then I can get to all the award nominations that you wonderful people have given me within the past two weeks, thank you!!
Also, thank you to any new followers I’ve gotten recently, as well as people who have been liking, commenting, and interacting! You guys make my day! x